This time of year, I find myself making awkward conversation at a lot of events and dinner parties. Some are required for my career in marketing/PR, and some are the result of people knowing they can lure me to any public outing with the promise of free wine and a shrimp puff.
It’s only possible to discuss shrimp puffs with strangers for so long before conversations shift to the inevitable: “What do you do?”
Note: your response to this question should contain some element of career information and not details of what you ordered at your last Pure Romance party and how you put it to use.
If I’m looking to escape the conversation, I throw out a line about managing communications for my city’s tourism bureau. But if I know I’m going to be there awhile, I’ll mention my gig as a romance author.
That’s where the questions begin.
Some are industry related: Is it hard to get published? How did you get an agent? How many books have you written? Where can I find them?
Some make me giggle: How do you research your love scenes? Do you let your parents read them? Do you ever plan to write a REAL book?
Lately – perhaps because I’ve been dragging him to speaking engagements and dinner functions – a number have been directed at my gentleman friend: What’s it like to date a romance author? Do you worry you’ll end up in one of her scenes? Can she really put her ankles behind her head?
He takes it all in stride, which I appreciate. A mutual friend once described him as, “the least self-conscious person I’ve ever met,” which should probably be a requirement for anyone dating an author with a fondness for genital euphemisms.
Still, I feel like I’m walking a funny line. I invite the prying questions with the very nature of what I write and how I’ve chosen to put myself in the public arena. But when he accepted my dinner invitation eight months ago, I doubt he pictured himself in front of an audience of 65 library fundraisers responding to the question, “how does she get inspiration for her love scenes?”
(For the record, he handled it brilliantly, and didn’t bat an eyelash when they thrust the mike in his face. Also for the record, he’d find the phrase “thrust the mike in his face” as funny as I just did.)
How conscious do you have to be of the way your chosen occupation impacts the people around you? Does your job ever make for awkward dinner party conversations? Please share!
Oh, and to answer the aforementioned questions in random order, yes, no, all over the place, I’m not sure, yes, hard work, carefully, no, yes, interesting.